In Iqaluit upset, Lightstone wins over deputy premier

by Michele LeTourneau- November 7, 2017

Iqaluit-Manirajak elected Nunavut’s youngest MLA Oct. 31 – Adam Arreak Lightstone – after he went to bed.

Polls for the riding came in late, after midnight. But by then, unofficially, he knew he’d beaten incumbent Monica Ell-Kanayuk. He just didn’t quite believe it.

Adam Arreak Lightstone, seen here with baby son Aiden on election night, swiped incumbent and Deputy Premier Monica Ell-Kanayuk’s seat in Iqaluit-Manirajak Oct. 30.
photo courtesy Adam Arreak Lightstone

“Over the last few days (of campaigning), that’s when the doubt started to creep in. Once it was election day, I was completely stressed and didn’t think I had a chance in the world,” said Lightstone.

“Until it finally happened.”

Lighstone ran against a strong woman, Ell-Kanayuk, who was first elected in 2011 and has served as deputy premier and handled multiple cabinet portfolios. He slipped past her, 253 votes to 227.

“I knew it was going to be difficult. Monica has definitely put in her time and made a contribution, but I knew that it may have been time for the next generation of young and educated Inuit to step in and take Nunavut the rest of the way,” said Lightstone.

He follows in the footsteps of South Baffin MLA David Joanasie, who was first elected in 2013, also as a 30-year-old newcomer.

Lightstone, nephew to former Premier Eva Aariak, has been dreaming of the legislative assembly since he was a teenager.

“I’ve wanted to run for most of my life. I paid close attention to the 2013 election and when I saw David Joanasie had won at such a young age, that’s really when I made my decision to run in the 2017 election,” he said.

“If he was able to do it, there’s no reason that if I were to prepare I wouldn’t be able to get in as well.”

As for why a teenager would aspire to the legislative assembly, Lightstone says that growing up he saw a lot of social issues firsthand.

“And I really knew that was probably the best way to make changes. I always knew I wanted to do something for Nunavut. I knew I’d eventually become a government worker, which I did. And I can only get so much done at the bureaucratic level,” he said.

But even beyond those practicalities, Lightstone thinks of how Nunavut was created.

“How a group of young Inuit had the dream and the idea, and put in the effort to make sure those dreams and ideals became true. And they did it not for themselves but for everyone.”

John Amagoalik in particular was striking and memorable, along with his red leather suit.

To reach this point, Lightstone attended Nunavut Sivuniksavut after completing high school. He went on to acquire a three-year advanced accounting college diploma, then a two-year bachelor in business administration.

“That enabled me to work my way up the ladder, so to speak, in the government,” he said.

Lightstone began his GN career working as a summer student throughout his post-secondary education. When that was completed, he worked in corporate services with the GN, followed by two fiscal years in financial reporting before landing the position of senior fiscal advisor for the Department of Finance’s expenditure management division, where he provided financial recommendations to cabinet and helped put together the government’s budgets.

“I definitely felt my government corporate knowledge would be an asset in the legislature,” said about running.

Lightstone also ran for his little son Aiden.

“I want to make sure he’s going to have a positive, prosperous Nunavut to grow up in,” said Lightstone.

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